No tags :(

A Five Part Suite of Solo Piano Music
Performed by Colston Q. Willmott
(aka William E. [Bill] Smith)

1. Nowhere In Particular
2. Begin Again
3. Over Exposed
4. Walking Closer
5. Hidden Agenda

All instruments contain their own unique identities, histories shaped by ownership, location, usage. This piano, manufactured by Heintzmann &Bill Head Co. (Patented, Toronto 1866), arrived at the turn of the century, transported across Canada from Toronto to Hornby Island, sharing space in the massive moving van with numerous boxes of various sizes. Sheila’s inheritance passed along from her mother. We wait excitedly on our porch for its arrival, impressed that the driver has negotiated Deaf Cat Lane, bumpy and twisting, in reverse. The most convenient doorway for this largest of all the objects is the double-door entrance to my workshop-cum-studio. A parlour piano about to settle into its, not so decorous, new home.

The multi-disciplinary artist Al Neil inspired the idea of the natural evolution of this piano, a visit to his cabin forty-odd years ago being the catalyst for this enterprise. Just inside the door of the cabin there’s an old upright piano that has over a lifetime been allowed to subside into an untuned state from which Al can produce magical music; his unique notion of bebop. Our piano not tuned for fifteen years or more, allowed to live its life in the same system as its player, transmutating, beyond maintenance – or so a professional has informed me.

And then the influence of Ross Bolleter – certainly more extreme – with his recording “Secret Sandhill and satellites, pieces for ruined pianos and pianos on the edge of ruin” [Emanem 4128]. Not that this recording is performed on such an instrument, more likely just tired, cobwebbed and possibly damp.

The compositions’ titles were added after the pieces were recorded. “The Subtle Deceit of the Quick Gloved Hand” already taken on a previous recording; “Nowhere in Particular” one of my favourites. Always tending to utilise titles outside of the “Blues for Nigel” genus. In this case governed not by the musical content, but rather the visuals, the positioning of the camera. Clearly illustrated with “Over Exposed” and “Hidden Agenda”.

I have no claim to being a pianist in the normal sense, never having had a lesson in my life. Every day for a number of years I’ve sat out there in the workshop at the piano and played. There have been a few attempts at “real” playing, mostly hymns like “Abide With Me” – because of William Henry- and Thelonious Sphere- Monk, “A Closer Walk With Thee”, “Down By the Riverside” etc. because of my love of New Orleans clarinetist George Lewis, but in the end evolving into a personal idea dominated by shape, sound and imaginary topologies. That said I have had a musical life which in some way must influence the directions I wander.

Are the results of this experiment an illusion conjured from my secluded life here on the island, or has this process revealed, as the title Chordophonic Explorations suggests, an empirical musical form? I have no idea what this may sound like to listeners and would be happy to receive comments at: classicimprov@yahoo.ca


Nice playing, Bill. I used to have an old Heintzmann at my old place (before moving to a condo earlier this year). Also inspired by Mr. Bolleter, plus the fact that it wouldn’t fit into the house, it was left in the garden to the vagaries of the weather. Here are a few little pieces I recorded on it after a few years of deterioration. Jim Bailey



End Notes:
Al Neil [http://vancouverjazz.com/billsmith/03.shtml]

Ross Bolleter [https://vimeo.com/92599609]
Emanem [http://www.emanemdisc.com]

Bill Smith: Photograph Ron Gaskin
Filmed & Recorded: Canon PowerShot S100
Edited: Quick Time Player & iMovie

To receive automatic notification of new postings please go to my home page at http://rantanddawdle.ca and become  a subscriber.